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Rousey by any standard of measure was a game changer.
After a decorated career as an amateur judoka, Rousey arrived on
the mixed martial arts scene in 2010 and in less than three years
emerged as one of the sport’s brightest stars. The Riverside,
California native won her first 12 fights, all of them finishes,
and laid claim to women’s bantamweight titles in Strikeforce
Ultimate Fighting Championship. Rousey left MMA after
consecutive knockout losses to Holly Holm
Nunes, enjoyed a brief but successful stint in professional
wrestling and then mostly stepped away from the public eye. She was
inducted into the modern-era wing of the UFC Hall of Fame on July
With Rousey’s MMA career apparently in the rearview mirror, here
are five things you might not know about her:
1. She was a menace in the gi.
One of three daughters born to AnnMaria De Mars, Rousey was the
first American woman to win gold at the World Judo Championships.
She was also a two-time gold medalist at the Pan American Judo
Championships (2004-05), a gold medalist at the Pan American Games
(2007) and a silver medalist at the World Judo Championships
(2007). She qualified for two Olympics, doing so for the first time
as a 17-year-old at the 2004 Summer Games in Athens, Greece. Rousey
returned to the stage in 2008, when she won bronze in Beijing and
became the first American woman to medal in judo at the
2. Given her background, MMA stardom was almost a
After retiring from judo at age 21, Rousey turned to mixed martial
arts. She made her amateur debut on Aug. 6, 2010 and over the
course of the next five months submitted three consecutive
opponents with armbars in less than two minutes combined. Rousey
moved to the professional ranks at a King of the Cage event in
March 2011 and won her first four fights in lopsided fashion, with
25-, 25-, 39- and 49-second finishes. She captured the Strikeforce
women’s bantamweight crown on March 3, 2012, as she tapped
archrival Miesha Tate
with a first-round armbar. Rousey made one successful title defense
with another sub-minute stoppage, victimizing Sarah
Kaufman with her patented armbar in August 2012 before turning
her attention to trails that had not yet been blazed.
3. She broke down seemingly impenetrable
UFC President Dana White once vowed that women would never compete
inside the Octagon. Rousey forced him to change his tune. She
joined the Ultimate Fighting Championship roster in late 2012, at
which point she was installed as the promotion’s inaugural women’s
bantamweight champion. Rousey made her organizational debut in the
UFC 157 main event on Feb. 23, 2013 and submitted Liz
Carmouche with a first-round armbar before 13,257 fans at the
Honda Center in Anaheim, California. She won her first six fights
in the UFC—she finished Carmouche, Tate, Sara McMann,
Davis, Cat Zingano
Correia in succession—before back-to-back defeats to Holm and
Nunes shattered her aura of invincibility and put her mixed martial
arts career on ice.
4. She maximized her appeal.
Rousey parlayed her MMA exploits into a lucrative crossover career.
She has appeared in a number of Hollywood blockbusters, including
“The Expendables 3,” “Furious 7” and “Entourage.” Rousey has also
served as a guest host on ESPN’s “SportsCenter,” appeared on the
cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue and hosted “Saturday
Night Live.” That mainstream appeal has since opened other doors,
most notably to World Wrestling Entertainment.
5. Her cage-to-ring transition was
Rousey touched down in the WWE in January 2018, went on to win the
Raw women’s championship and became one of the organization’s
biggest draws. Married to fellow UFC veteran Travis
Browne, she left the WWE a little more than a year later in a
bid to start a family. Rousey has deeper ties to the WWE than some
may realize. She was trained by “Judo” Gene LeBell,
whose students included Rod Toombs, better known as “Rowdy” Roddy
Piper. Toombs bequeathed his “Rowdy” nickname to Rousey prior to
his death in 2015.
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